"When the new family on the block moved in -- a mom, a dad, three kids, and a fish -- the neighbors kept an eye out for trouble. Yet life remained as usual...until the day the visitors arrived." - Too Many Visitors for One Little House by Susan Chodakiewitz, illustrated by Veronica Walsh
Family get-togethers and reunions are a popular summertime activity. We receive an invite to at least one family reunion each summer. The families all mingle together, a crazy-quilt of individuals brought together by relation and catch up on a year's worth of updates. The kids run around and eat the dessert on their plate first. Our reunions always involve potlucks. Sometimes we play outdoor games. Most of the reunions we attend are held in a park shelter building, though once and awhile the reunion takes place at a relative's home. You can bet I won't be volunteering to host anything like that for quite some time though. Too much happy chaos for me!
Happy chaos is a good term for what occurs in the children's picture book, Too Many Visitors For One Little House by Susan Chodakiewitz. A family with kids moves into the quiet El Camino Street neighborhood and nosy neighbors keep watch for signs of trouble. Nothing out of the ordinary happens until the day a huge camper pulls up in front of the house and a whole bunch of people spill out and head into the house. Not fond of any sort of noisy ruckus, the nosy neighbors get ready to report the disturbance to the city complaint department, all the while proclaiming "Too many visitors for one little house!"
Susan Chodakiewitz's debut and self published picture book includes everything you'd expect to find during a high-spirited family gathering involving kids and parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and even a scraggly, stray dog. The really interesting thing about this book is that some of the events depicted actually occurred. One summer after moving to a new home, author Susan Chodakiewitz did have numerous, rather boisterous family members all stay at her home and her neighbors reported the "suspicious activity."
The book contains a lot of stereotypes, and Walsh's slightly caricature-like illustrations help bring out the exaggerations. Readers see a fashion-crazed teen, grandma carrying prune juice bottles, grandpa lugging a plunger and toilet paper and a nanny in a wheel-chair with her fresh apple strudel. While it is obvious to adults that the characters are meant to be a bit outrageous, I took the time to point out some the stereotypes to my daughter. (I'm not bringing up the topic of prune juice though...some things are better left unsaid to preschoolers.) My daughter liked the lively pictures and the repetition of the phrase "Too many visitors for one little house," but her very favorite part of the book was the addition of the scraggly dog. The main message of the book deals with friendship and is a good one to learn...a message of inclusion rather than exclusion.
Too Many Visitors For One Little House by Susan Chodakiewitz, illustrated by Veronica Walsh. BookSurge Publishing (February 2009); 40 pages; ISBN 9781419654701; paperback
Book Source: Review copy provided by Pump Up Your Book Promotion
Additional related information:
Chodakiewitz also developed a musical version of the book. You can visit her website Booksicals to learn more about how the characters are brought to life using acting, song and dance. She is planning a sequel to the book featuring the scraggly dog. Readers can help name the dog by entering the Booksicals "Name the Dog Contest."